North East Calling A New Avenue For Start-Ups

Indian cultural heritage consists of handlooms, handicrafts and food products. These are the most vibrant and visible aspects of North East India aspects. With an aim of preserving the rich tradition and churn it accessible to the present and future generation, a few passionate entrepreneurs from the region are proudly promoting local products across the country. Though starting their entrepreneurial journey at a time when the start-up ecosystem was non-existent and the way ahead uncertain, they have flourished and are bullish about the future.

Utilizing the knowledge of the local languages, cultures, and drawing from ancient wisdom and folk medicine, the states look for the best raw ingredients. Such as Meghalaya has to offer the customers rare and pure products. The states offer unique treasures of the rich region which include the world's best turmeric, potent ginger powder, several varieties of raw honey, whole spices, ground spices and a few spice blends.

What Facts States
The companies have built up a loyal base of customers, who are even willing to wait till the next harvest. The region experts suggest that the demand for the products is steadily growing. The clientele mostly consists of discerning health-conscious consumers from across the country in search of pure and authentic products and sharing the common vision to promote sustainable farming in the northeast.

In recent times, the Indian Ministers are working for the development of the north-eastern region, said the North-East will be one of the favourite business destinations of India in post-COVID times. Unarguably so, as the region has immense potential, which is yet to be explored to the fullest.

Till recently, the regions were majorly confined to a job-seeking mindset. But the good news is that the past two-three years have witnessed the onset of a paradigm shift in the mindset of the people in the region. More and more people, especially the youth, are realising the importance of innovation to tackle the myriad local challenges themselves rather than expecting someone else to resolve the problems. The head of ecosystem development for IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP), which has been leading the mission to develop the start-up ecosystem in the North-East.

It has also been observed that India's top Vice Chancellors and angel networks have their eyes on the region. With the markets saturating elsewhere, North-East India's reasonably unexplored potential has investors warming up to the region.

Welcoming MSMES
Medium and Small size businesses play a wide role in leading the nation towards the development. The government is widely promoting the businesses, and medium and small sized businesses are mushrooming across the breadth and length of the country. Things are not different for the North Eastern (NE) region of India. Even though the region comprising of seven states, blessed with plenty of natural resources, accounts for only a fraction of percent of India's Medium and Small size businesses, the region is developing as a start-up ecosystem in a rapidly growing pace with numerous government policies promoting the movement.

The vibrant youngsters of the region having entrepreneurial mind are choosing business as their domain, producing a diverse range of products and offering services across different sectors of the economy, catering to myriad demands from both domestic and global markets.

Development yet Believing Technology Causes Harm
In the past few years, there has been a sloth but steady business growth in the region. Availability of credit, high cost of operation, erratic power supply, lack of infrastructure, transportation, communication and inadequate market linkage were some of the problems hampering the growth of business in the region. The government is taking best efforts from its part to promote industrialization the region. The Industrial Policy that was announced earlier for North East India, consists of various policies for supporting infrastructure development, provide transport subsidy and Fiscal Incentives to new industrial units and their substantial expansion.

Adding to the facts, various initiatives were launched by the central government in the NE region for skill development, entrepreneurship development, technology & incubation and venture funds for start-ups, which are aimed at accelerating the development of business ecosystem in the region. In the recent past and present times, a plethora of stakeholders in the Start-up eco-system such as incubators, accelerators and other venture funds have emerged in the North Eastern Region (NER), leading to a large number of Start-ups.

Brilliant Mindset
As per to the date of 31st January, 2022, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has recognized 674 Start-ups from States of NER comprising of numbers in states which include -Arunachal Pradesh (8), Assam (499), Manipur (68), Meghalaya (17), Mizoram (6), Nagaland (21), Sikkim (8), and Tripura (47).

Besides, North East Development Finance Corporation Ltd. has released a total of Rs. 41.14 crore to 22 Start-ups till date through North East Venture Fund (NEVF) and a total of 36 proposals have received in principle commitment of Rs. 74.76 crore.

The North East India is further searching for the development of the states with inclusion of heritage businesses and not withstanding with technology that are harmful from the previous ages as well and contributing to the unearthing facts that causes harm. However, the states are welcoming startups with businesses from old traditions which include no technology.